Parsec (symbol: pc) is a unit measure of length, typically used to calculate the distances to stars and galaxies. One parsec is approximately equal to 3.26 light-years (ly), 206,000 astronomical units (au), 30.9 trillion kilometers (km), or 19.2 trillion miles (mi). Most stars visible to the naked eye are within a few hundred parsecs of the Sun, with the most distant at a few thousand.
A star at a distance of one parsec would have a parallax of one second (second here pertains to an arcsecond (“), a unit of angular measure equal to 1/3600th of one degree). Interestingly, the term ‘parsec’ is derived from a combination of the words 'parallax’ and ‘second’, and the metaphors rooted in this idea form the conception of this exhibition.
Parsecs are determined using trigonometry and parallax. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a parallax as, ‘the effect by which the position or direction of an object appears to change when the object is seen from different positions’. It is likely one has already experienced parallaxes in many instances, while taking photographs for instance. The ‘parallax error’ in photography occurs when the viewfinder looks out on the world through a separate window from the camera lens, as in many digital or smartphone cameras. Due to a displacement in the apparent position of the object, the resulting image may differ from the intended composition. Therefore, by figurative extension a parallax might represent a subject or an idea whose implication varies in view of individual perspective.